Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Historical Perspective

I'm a bit of an historian, and enjoy it no end when I run across something that sounds like it could be from the present but was said or done some time in the past. Other times, something from the past may point out how little progress has been made or how little has changed. Or perhaps even how things have digressed.

As I've been trying to get through some recently purchased books before they get packed away, I ran across these comments in the Jurors' Statement from The New Quilt 2 - Dairy Barn: Quilt National 1993. I'll let you decided whether the quilt art world today is the same, better or worse than it was 13 years ago.

"An encouraging sign was the number of quilts that included non-fabric materials in their construction. Especially promising were several artists whose handling of diverse and often disparate materials with restraint represented a new level of maturity and sophistication."

That last bit about maturity and sophistication caught my eye because that is what I decided my work was lacking, and working toward a higher level of sophistication became my goal for the year. Jury still out on whether I've made much progress that direction. Anyway, it continues:

"The most successful quilts incorporating mixed media are those where the makers used materials in support of their ideas as opposed to exploiting the purely seductive qualities often inherent in unusual materials."

Bingo! Has there not been tons of discussion about this very topic lately on blogs and lists? More on that:

"In general we found that the materials selected by the quilters have become subtle, sophisticated and increasingly more personal. It was apparent that more and more quilters are creating their own patterned fabrics, thus allowing more control and expressiveness over their creations. This development, coupled with a trend to restrict the amount of artificial fabrics used in quilts, is one that we enthusiastically applaud."

As for their criteria for acceptance:

"We avoided including quilts that closely mimicked the ideas and techniques of well-known workshop presenters. We hope that quilters continue learning new approaches. But more important, we want to see quilters enlarge upon those new methods by taking risks with their newly acquired vision and create a highly personal format."

Or as we often term it - find our own voice. I'm still looking but several have told me they think they see one emerging.

It concludes with this thought:

"As we move into the final decade of the millennium, we believe that individual quilt makers will continue to express themselves in ways that are exciting and yet unimaginable today."

So have we? And as a whole, have quilters continued to cultivate subtlety and sophistication in their work? In my opinion, no. Which makes those few who have done stand out not so subtly from the current field of would-be quilt artists.

1 comment:

margaret said...

My candidate for subtlety and sophistication is Elizabeth Brimelow (http://www.quiltart.org.uk/elizabethbrimelo.html), whose work is based on the English landscape.